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Asymmetric Information and Overinvestment in Quality

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  • Paul Belleflamme
  • Martin Peitz

Abstract

In a standard adverse selection world, asymmetric information about product quality leads to quality deterioration in the market. Suppose that a higher investment level makes the realization of high quality more likely. Then, if consumers observe the investment (but not the realization of product quality) before purchase, they can infer the probability distribution of high and low quality that may be put on the market. We uncover two effects that may lead the firm to overinvest in quality compared to a market with full information: first, an adverse selection effect according to which a sufficiently large investment can avoid adverse selection and, second, an efficiency effect according to which a larger investment reduces the probability of socially inefficient, low quality products in the market.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2619.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2619

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Keywords: asymmetric information; product quality;

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  1. Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "The Informational Role of Warranties and Private Disclosure about Product Quality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 461-83, December.
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  8. Cabral, L.M.B., 2000. "Stretching Firm and Brand Reputation," New York University, Leonard N. Stern School Finance Department Working Paper Seires 00-07, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business-.
  9. Daughety, Andrew F & Reinganum, Jennifer F, 1995. "Product Safety: Liability, R&D, and Signaling," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1187-1206, December.
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  14. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-41, August.
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  17. Shiou Shieh, 1993. "Incentives for Cost-Reducing Investment in a Signalling Model of Product Quality," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 466-477, Autumn.
  18. de Meza, David & Webb, David C, 1987. "Too Much Investment: A Problem of Asymmetric Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 281-92, May.
  19. Leland, Hayne E, 1979. "Quacks, Lemons, and Licensing: A Theory of Minimum Quality Standards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1328-46, December.
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